Tuesday 23 January 2018

Woman whose daughter (4) was raped by her partner found out she was pregnant with his child around time of the attack, court hears

Ashleigh McDonald

A 27-year-old woman whose four-year old daughter was raped by her partner as she attended an evening class found out she was pregnant with his child around the time of the sex attack, a court has heard.

The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her daughter, was remanded in custody after appearing in the dock of Belfast Crown Court on a charge of doing an act with intent to pervert the course of justice.

Following a trial held in March this year, the woman's now ex-partner was convicted by a jury of raping her four-year old daughter in the house they shared in Co Antrim. It took the jury of seven men and five women less than an hour to return the unanimous guilty verdict.

However, during a hearing today it emerged that despite being found guilty of raping the child on November 13, 2013, the 26-year old Co Antrim man continues to deny the offence.

The court heard the young victim faces "emotional difficulties in the future" as a result of what happened to her. Since the offence, both she and her mother have left Northern Ireland.

During the trial, the jury was told the man was not the child's biological father, that he had met the child's mother via the internet and that they then set up home together in Co Antrim.

On the evening of the incident, the girl's mother was attending an evening class and the little girl was being looked after by the man she called 'Daddy.' Whilst at the class, the mother received a call from the accused.

When she arrived home and saw bleeding around her child's private parts, she asked a neighbour for advice and the youngster was subsequently taken to Antrim Area Hospital.

Whilst at hospital, the girl's mother initially lied about how her daughter sustained the injury. She claimed that she swiped the youngster's hand away from her private area whilst in the shower - but she later admitted this was a lie and pleaded guilty to a charge of doing an act with intent to pervert the course of justice.

The woman's barrister, Kieran Mallon QC, said that on the date of the offence - November 13, 2013 - his client "became aware she was pregnant" with her partner's child which rendered her both shocked and confused.

She went on to have a little boy, while she has "limited contact" with her daughter, Mr Mallon said the relationship she has with her daughter is "positive" and that the little girl "looks forward to spending time with her mother."

He also said that despite her initial lies about the nature of her daughter's injuries, his client did "come clean" and inform police she was not at home when the injuries were sustained.

Telling the court the woman "has vulnerabilities", Mr Mallon said her guilty plea reflected that she had accepted responsibility for her actions, and that she is "genuinely remorseful for what she did."

Mr Mallon said: "She would change everything is she was able to do so. She hates the fact that she lied. She realised the medical staff and police were there to help her daughter and by lying, she hampered their investigation."

This claim, Mr Mallon said, has shown "considerable insight on her part", and he added his client "fully accepts her actions are indefensible."

Regarding her co-accused - who was remanded in custody in March after being found guilty by a jury of raping the child - the court heard he continues to deny the sex attack.

Crown prosecutor Terence Mooney QC spoke of several aggravating factors in the case, including the breach of trust, the age of the victim and the fact the rape occurred in the family home - a place, he said, the youngster should have felt safe.

Speaking of the fact that the Co Antrim man continues to "resist culpability" despite the "overwhelming and compelling" evidence, Mr Mooney also raised the issue of the harm that the incident has caused to the child.

He told the court "it is clear that there are long term effects" and added that while her physical injuries will heal, the "emotional difficulties she faces are quite significant in the future." Saying the degree of harm was "significant", Mr Mooney branded the offence committed against the four-year as a "single offence but a very grave offence."

The Co Antrim man's barrister Terence McDonald QC spoke of the public revulsion a case such as this attracts.

Saying "it speaks for itself" that his client "is going to face the full rigour of the law", Mr McDonald spoke of the preventative measures that will be put in place to "restrict the potential for offending after the requisit period in custody has been served."

He also pointed out that his client came before the court with a completely clear record, and with the support of his family.

After listening to submissions from both the Crown and from the legal teams, Judge Gordon Kerr QC remanded the pair into custody, and reserved sentence until next Wednesday.

Belfast Telegraph

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